Empowering Motivation Through Service Learning

Posted by PA Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development on November 10, 2014

Empowering Motivation Through Service Learning

Motivation comes in three forms: achievement, affiliation, and power (Robertson, 2013). Achievement relates to mastery of new skills and ideas, affiliation refers to the joy of feeling connected to others, and power involves the ability to influence others and one’s surroundings. In school, students experience achievement by developing their skills. They relish cooperative learning opportunities and informal times of day during which they can experience affiliation with peers. The power to influence others is also increasingly important to them, but may not be within reach.

Too often, schools and parents measure learning solely by students’ test scores. What if learning was also measured by students’ ability to transfer knowledge and skills in a constructive manner that influences their world? Service learning, which supplements in-class lessons with community service work, provides opportunities for just this kind of education. According to Kraft and Billig (1997), “A service-learning philosophy enables a more natural way for children to see connections between curriculum and their lives” (p. 9). Students apply their learning to what matters to them. This is motivating!

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